2021 Education FactBook provides annual look at spending and achievement

KPI’s 2021 Public Education FactBook has just been released. As in previous editions, this is an invaluable resource of data on overall spending, per-pupil spending, assessment results, employment, enrollment and much more. The information provided is on multiple levels – statewide, districtwide, and nationwide – and for multiple years, some information goes back several decades.

Despite the impact of COVID-19, which caused the canceling of state assessments in 2020, there is much new information reported.  It also serves as baseline data as public education moves forward from the impacts of the pandemic.

Be cognizant that all data comes from official sources. Most come from KSDE, but data is also gleaned from the governor’s office, federal sources, and proprietary results obtained from ACT.

Here are but a few examples of facts that can be found among the plethora of data in the 2021 FactBook.

  • Per-pupil spending set another record of $14,848 for 2020 and is estimated to exceed $16,000 per pupil in the current year.
  • Statewide ACT scores, which according to ACT were not impacted by COVID, dropped for the fourth year in a row.
  • Carry-over cash balances set another record, an increase from 2020 of over $50 million to a statewide total of $997 million.
  • Spending, funding, enrollment, employment, carryover cash, 10th-grade state assessment and ACT results are reported for all 286 districts.

As education moves out of the COVID shadow, what will the long-term impacts of the previous year be? Will parents continue to opt for homeschooling, choose a virtual school, or send their children to a private school? There was a precipitous drop in enrollment in 2020-21 with parents responding to limited in-person teaching.  Is there significant learning loss due to distance learning? Many have said the closing of schools has resulted in a substantial loss of learning especially among low-income and minority students. Will this translate into more demand for school choice options?  Across the country, states are analyzing a variety of expanded school choice options in response to the choices parents made in the face of limited in-person learning. What will be the impact of the massive influx of federal dollars into public schools? Kansas’s share of COVID-related federal bail-out funding is approximately $830 million. If history is any indicator, it is unlikely the money will have any impact on student achievement.

In order to answer these and other relevant questions as they apply to Kansas, it is vital to have accurate and complete information regarding spending, achievement, employment, enrollment and other pertinent data that is stored in the FactBook. As the saying goes “Knowledge is Power” and there is a tremendous amount of knowledge in the FactBook.

As of this writing, a digital version of the FactBook is available by following the above link. You may request a written copy as well. It is a great research tool to have at your disposal and is easy to carry. And despite sounding as if it would be very bulky, it’s actually only about the size of your phone.